WRAL Investigates

Complaints pile up against metal garage business

Posted February 4, 2010

— Thousands of dollars paid for something they never got – that’s the complaint from more than a dozen people who signed contracts with a local business that builds metal garages. It’s a company 5 on Your Side has warned viewers about before.

The 5 on Your Side team has been following the company for more than a year. The Better Business Bureau gives the company an “F.” The owner keeps changing names and continues to take all that money from customers without finishing the work.

From one garage door to four, from beige siding to red – there are plenty of styles to choose from. The pictures on the Morris Buildings of Kenly Web site definitely make it look like the company does solid, regular work.

Complaints pile up against garage business Complaints pile up against garage business

Mark Drinkwater thinks otherwise.

“For $3,150, I have a nice slab,” he said.

The same goes for Phillip Beamon.

“As far as the slab is, everything's alright. But it ain't got no building on it,” he said.

Both men signed contracts with James Morris. Drinkwater ordered a garage last August.

“This was gonna be my wife's side. I'm gonna keep my motorcycles over here,” Drinkwater said.

He paid $1,350 of the $5,400 total upfront. Five weeks later, they poured concrete. Drinkwater paid another $1,800 for a total of $3,150.

He says Morris promised the building would be finished by Thanksgiving. When that didn't happen, Drinkwater asked for his money back. He says Morris agreed, saying he'd get it to Drinkwater by Dec. 1, 2009. That didn't happen either.

“I must have called at least 10 or 15 times. I left messages probably seven or eight times. And I've been down there talking to them twice - still nothing,” Drinkwater said. “The last thing he said to me was, ‘You'll get your money when you get it.’”

The 5 on Your Side team talk to Phillip Beamon about a year ago. When he paid Morris for his garage, the company had a different name: Metal Buildings of N.C. Morris then changed the name to Carolina Custom Garages and later to the current name, Morris Buildings.

Combined, 5 on Your Side has more than 15 complaints against Morris and his companies.

“I should have done my homework better, but I didn't,” Beamon said.

Most only got concrete slabs. When 5 on Your Side went to ask Morris about the latest round of complaints, the business was locked up. But when 5 on Your Side caught up with him last time, he blamed the economy.

“We don't want to do business with people who can't understand our situation,” Morris said. “The alternative is file bankruptcy and let these folks worry about it like that.”

So far, it appears the company has not filed bankruptcy, but Drinkwater feels all this is just as bad.

“I just don't understand how someone can keep doing this and getting away with it,” he said.

Last year, a judge ordered Morris to pay Beamon $200 a month until nearly $4,800 is paid back. Beamon says Morris stopped sending payments after refunding $600.

Five on Your Side talked with Morris by telephone. He said only that the business is closed and that he is in the process of filing for bankruptcy. He then hung up.


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  • just1view Feb 11, 2010

    From the photos it looks as if the building will never pass the minimum requirements of the building code. 4" slab on grade just will not cut it for buildings larger than 400 sq ft. without engineering by a licensed engineer. But the slab will make for a nice basket ball court.

  • SuperBonBon Feb 8, 2010

    “We don't want to do business with people who can't understand our situation,” Morris said. “The alternative is file bankruptcy and let these folks worry about it like that.”

    Yep. You are the victim Morris. Poor baby. Your situation is you steal from people. Maybe someone will call you for a quote and give you a " situation to worry about". People have friends and family everywhere. Think maybe you should move.

  • Go GT Feb 8, 2010

    Sad thing is this guy sees no wrong doing-- taking others money without any thought, and that he has no intentions of finishing the job... someone, someday will remind him why this is not a good idea.. people tend not to forget when you steal from them.

  • shakennotstirred Feb 5, 2010

    NEVER pay any money until the job is completely done, period. No legit company is going to ask for money up front. They may ask for partial payment as they finish each stage, which is fine. But why "loan" a company money up front and you be at risk. Seems like there are alot of suckers out there...

  • itsnews2me Feb 5, 2010

    "What's in a name?" Well, when it comes to business law, pretty much everything apparently. Shut it down, rename, repeat.

  • discowhale Feb 5, 2010

    I love people like Larky who thinks THEIR personal taste is THE best. R U the ducks and pineapples type Dahling!?

    The problem is that the Atty Gen and the local DA's don't take this seriously. I've never been able to figure out why, but there it is. If somebody steals your money with a bad contract instead of a gun, does that make a difference?

    My In-Laws built an addition on their house back in the 80's. I know that at least 3 of the subcontractors they dealt with did this kind of stuff. Most were good, honest people, but that few bad ones gives an entire industry a bad name.

    One guy couldn't complete his work, because he was in jail, for ripping off other people. His wife said he'd be back in 30 days. He was, to pick up his tools and promise to come back, he didn't. And he never paid back the "starter money" either. When they went looking for him, he had moved to Florida, where he was repairing roofs.

    Yeah, right.

  • Titus Pullo Feb 5, 2010

    So why isn't our government protecting us from this criminal. He clearly takes money without intending to honor a contract. That is theft IMO. He should be arrested. It he stole the money from the Food Lion the police would be all over him. What's the difference? Why does our government allow this to happen? In our developing they seem to want to protect us from every little thing yet they continue to allow this criminal to prey upon trusting individuals. It is clearly a failure of our government.

  • scodeb Feb 4, 2010

    I had dealings with this same guy about a year ago. I filed complaints also. I can't believe he is still in business or jail.

  • airbornemonty Feb 4, 2010

    What! Am I the only person commenting on this?

    Nevertheless, why isn't the state attorney general's office not checking this fraud and why haven't those people offended not brought a law suit and have this individual put in prison where he obviously belongs. Holy Smoke!

  • larky74406 Feb 4, 2010

    I checked out the pics on the website. The people who never got one of those ugly things put in their yard should count themselves as lucky.